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I run a YouTube page dedicated to Starflyer 59 and Joy Electric. Recently I received a video from someone on the Starflyer message board and I’ve posted a couple of the songs online. It’s funny to see Jason Martin on the acoustic taking requests from the audience and telling them they’re offbeat with their clapping. It’s nice to see since there is no official Starflyer DVD.

I started listening to Jason Martin’s music about 13 years ago and I still enjoy it as much now as I did in the beginning. Even though the band is mostly a solo project these days Jason keeps trucking with a new recording just about every year.

The latest album is entitled: “Dial M” and the title is a takeoff off of a Hitchcock movie title. The CD is scheduled to be released this upcoming Tuesday. The songs are remade versions of the “Ghosts of the Future” demos that were released as an vinyl box set.

Overall, I enjoy the new CD because the years have taught Jason Martin how to write songs that are tried, tested and true. My favorite song “Magic” is a bonus track that is also available on Amazon. Currently you can stream the album here and I encourage you to check out my Brothers Martin YouTube page here.

This is a clip from the Joy Electric DVD “Picturebook”. I get a kick out of it because I have seen Joy Electric have serious sound problems and I know a little about what Ronnie is referencing. For more Ronnie and Jason Martin videos go to the Brothers Martin YouTube page.

Bon Voyage, the Starflyer 59 side project featuring Jason and Julie Martin comes out today. The band’s first self-titled album came out in 1998 and the follow-up “The Right Amount” was released in 2002. To my knowledge the band does not tour and has rarely performed live.

Bon Voyage is basically Starflyer 59 with a woman singing. It’s funny because as you listen to the songs you can hear Jason’s voice singing the songs. Jason doesn’t consider himself a singer, so it’s interesting to hear someone else sing his songs.

As a long-time Bon Voyage fan I’ve always wanted to see a live show or even just a video of one. Sadly, California is a long way from Chicago and the Martins won’t be coming this way together anytime soon. But I can dream can’t I?

Last year I joined the Starflyer 59 message board. There was discussion of a tribute album almost since the beginning and now it’s finally finished. You can find the album here. I also did a cover of Card Games and Old Friends. The Joy Electric message board also did a similar tribute album recently. I also run a Brothers Martin YouTube page, which you can find here.

I dug up an old tape that I recorded from a press conference with Starflyer. Below is a summary of what was said.

How do you view your records? Do you set out to do a concept record?
Jason Martin: It’s whatever 10 or 12 songs we come up with. We just want to make it different than the last one. We try not to put out the same record.

Which record is your favorite?
Jason: The Fashion Focus.

Does that mean you’re not happy with the latest one?
Jason: I don’t think any of them are perfect. I don’t think we’ve ever put out a perfect record by any means.

What comes first the music or the lyrics?
Jason: The music.

How do you come up with the music?
Jason: I play a guitar riff over the chords and that’s the melody. I try to find words that will fit into that. Sometimes the words mean something sometimes they don’t.

What are the songs about?
Jason: Songs are basically me having a conversation with myself like if struggling in this area of my life or my job is bumming me out. It means something to me like if I had a diary.

Will Starflyer put out an instrumental record?
Jason: No, Starflyer is bordering on instrumental. Nobody’s going to buy an instrumental record.

Was there anything to the hushed vocal sound of the early records?
Jason: That’s just how the guy mixed it. I sing kinda better now than I did then, but I’m not like a singer.

Is the reaction of the fans to the sadness of the songs accurate to how the songs were written?
Jason: I’m not trying to be like this bummed out artist… It’s cool people can relate to it.

Do you listen to music in the truck?
Jason: I don’t listen to anything. (He later admits to listening to Starflyer demos in the truck.)

Will there be a reunion with Ronnie?
Jason: He’s played on stuff before. (Jason doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen anytime soon.)

About the strings on Leave Here A Stranger?
Jason: I wanted to give it an old fashioned sound. I was sick of guitars.

Do you view your band as a ministry?
I view it as anything you do should be to the glory of God… No, we don’t give altar calls or anything like that. We’re at a Christian festival and we’re a Christian band–it’s entertainment.

Check out the Starflyer 59 message board at

This video features Jason Martin’s evil twin. Watch for him near the end.

The best thing about Starflyer 59 is that they are the ever-evolving band that just keeps getting better. They are one of the original Tooth and Nail bands and one of the best.

Over the years their brand of heavy guitars and hushed vocals has gradually mellowed into a delightful Brit-pop sound with “Leave Here A Stranger” (left), which has continued to establish the band as one of the most creative in the Christian scene and beyond.

I recently did an e-mail interview with Jason Martin, the man behind Starflyer’s music. It’s hard to describe him, but the word “Rock Star” is definitely not in his vocabulary. He doesn’t seem to really have much to say outside of his music, but most of the time music can say more than an interview anyway.

Matt M: Last summer before your show at Cornerstone there was a guy who proposed to his girlfriend. He talked about how Starflyer was his favorite band and how he was so excited that he found a girl that loved Starflyer as much as he did. Did he talk to you beforehand to set up the proposal and what was your reaction when he was proposing?

Jason Martin: Yeah, he was a friend of ours and asked if he could propose on stage. I thought it was cool and I also thought he has a lot more guts than me.

MM: I heard that you met your wife while shooting a video for “A Housewife Love Song.” Is that accurate and if so can you tell a little bit of the story of how you ended up together?

Martin: I had known her before that. She worked around Tooth and Nail in the early days and was dating someone else. They eventually broke up. We did a video, started dating and were married 6 months later.

MM: You used to be in a band called Morella’s Forest and there is band from Ohio that also goes by that name. In another interview, your brother Ronnie told his side of the story, what’s your side of the story and did their use of your old band’s name bother you?

Martin: Not at all. At the time I thought it was kind of weird these guys I didn’t know took this obscure band name that happened to be ours. I actually came up with that name when I thought I was a deep 15-year-old. There was a poem, or short story by Edgar Allen Poe called “Morella” and a Cure song called “A Forest”…so there you go.

MM: Musically after Dance House Children, you and your brother Ronnie had a parting of sorts; each of you choosing to pursue a different musical direction. Why did the two of you decide to go your own ways artistically?

Martin: It just kind of happened. I’ve always liked guitar type stuff the best, probably because it’s easier to start. The idea of sequencers and programming really scared me when I was younger, so to do a more standard rock and roll thing when we separated made sense to me at the time.

MM: Can you give a run-down of the history of current and former members of Starflyer 59? Also why did Wayne Everett leave?

Martin: That’s a little confusing to me…Here are the basics. It was Andrew Larson and I in the beginning. Then it was Eric Campuzano, Wayne Everett and I. When Campuzano left, it was Cloud, Everett and I. About that time Wayne and Eric started a band called “The Lassie Foundation”. It became apparent that Wayne had some more important obligations with his new band; there were no hard feelings-that’s just the way it was. The lineup became, and still is, Cloud, Joey Esquibel and I.

MM: You always seem quite shy and soft spoken, and you’ve said that you don’t like being up on stage. Is that a fair assessment of your personality or is that just how you are in public?

Martin: I’m not shy around my close friends, but yeah, I don’t just love playing shows, it just goes with the territory. You work hard on making records and to promote the records you have to tour. I’m more comfortable with playing live now more than I’ve ever been, but it still at times seems a bit unnatural considering I know who I am, and I stand in front of people singing and playing guitar.

MM: You said that you’re not a poet, but a lot of people seem to think you are. Why do you think people think you’re a poet and why do you think they’re wrong?

Martin: I just write songs, some better than others.

MM: Your producer and friend Gene Eugene passed away a couple years back. Can you share a little about what he means to you as a musician and a friend, and how you will remember him?

Martin: Nothing really to say, he helped us out a lot, helped transfer the band into the band we are now. He was my friend and I miss that guy on a continual basis.

MM: You worked with Terry Taylor on “Leave Here A Stranger.” Was that weird working with him since you grew up listening to his band Daniel Amos?

Martin: Yeah it was at first. He was one the reasons I wanted to make music in the first place. It was a great time doing the record with him; it was nice getting to know a guy that had such a big influence on me musically and spiritually.

MM: The lines from one of your songs say: “When I learn to sing I’ll change the key of everything. When I learn to read I’ll change my views on everything.” Is that meant to be literal or metaphorical and do you think that the average listener understands the meaning of your songs?

Martin: The singing part was literal!!! I think the songs mean what they mean.

MM: Can you give a preview the new Bon Voyage album, as far as what listeners should expect in comparison to the first Bon Voyage record?

Martin: I think it turned out cool. It is a little smoother than the last one. There are some nice numbers on it and Julie’s voice sounds great.

MM: What’s the new EP “Can’t Stop Eating” (right) going to be like? Musically how will it compare to your previous recordings?

Martin: Basically it is a stereo version of LHAS and a slight preview of what’s to come on the new record…

MM: Do you ever feel that Starflyer being part of the “Christian” music scene causes people to discriminate against your music or to write it off as religious propaganda before giving it a fair listen?

Martin: No, we’ve never really had any problems being a Christian band, it seems like we’ve always gotten a fair shake.

MM: You were nominated for a music award in Orange County and you’ve received praise from music critics from publications like the L.A. Times. How do you handle that and what do you hope that people remember about you and your music?

Martin: I think that’s nice. I hope we’re remembered the way I remember bands like Daniel Amos, it made me want to be in a band and make music. That’s when it really was fun.

MM: Any last words, thoughts, comments or suggestions?

Martin: Thanks for the interview.

For more information about Starflyer 59 click here.

Joy Electric’s musical creativity and unwillingness to deny their faith sets them apart in the music scene today. Ever since the early days of Tooth and Nail Records, Ronnie Martin has been working hard to create music that is beyond comparison. Joy Electric currently has 11 recordings and will soon release a “greatest hits” two-disc set entitled “The Art and Craft of Popular Music”. I recently interviewed Ronnie via electronic mail. If you like Joy Electric or just enjoy intelligent music, then you need to read Ronnie’s thoughts on his music and his band.

Matt M: You used to be in a band called Morellas Forest and there is band from Ohio that also goes by that name. Did they steal the name and if they did what’s the story behind that?

Ronnie Martin: They took the name after they found out that we were no longer a band. We recorded an album for a label called Narrowpath Records back in 1989/90, but the record was shelved due to financial problems within the label. The (current) band somehow knew about all this and decided to take the name some years later. I actually love all the Mofo guys, having spent time with them on tour over the years, but my brother and I were a little upset over it at the time.

MM: You said you had some other names before deciding on Joy Electric. What were some of those names?

Martin: I’m not really sure, but I remember that I liked them all better than the name Joy Electric. Brandon Ebel (Tooth and Nail records founder) didn’t even let me tell him the other names after he heard Joy Electric (that was the first name I gave him) because he really liked that particular one.

MM: Musically after Dance House Children, you and your brother Jason had a parting of sorts, each of you choosing to pursue a different musical direction. Why did the two of you decide to go your own ways artistically?

Martin: Jason had started learning guitar and writing songs, so I just encouraged him to start his own thing so we could both do exactly what we wanted to do rather than compromise by being in the same band. I suppose we don’t collaborate well with other people because we’re very sure about our songwriting. It’s something that’s not up for discussion, once a song has been written. A lot of bands are a democracy, but we don’t operate like that. I wish we could’ve worked together, though, because it would have built some fond memories through the years, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

MM: Is it strange having Jeff Cloud in Joy Electric and Starflyer 59 at the same time? Does that ever present a problem?

Martin: In the past, since Jeff books for the bands, he could set the schedules so they don’t conflict. Recently, he has stopped touring with JE so there are no problems, except loneliness…

MM: Have you ever thought about playing the Love Festival in Germany or touring a place like Europe where electronic music is more prevalent?

Martin: We have had opportunities for festivals, but they have always fallen through for some reason. This year we are finally playing a festival in Norway, so it will be our first. Why don’t we tour Europe? It’s simply a lack of connections. You can’t just decide one day to tour Europe and then get on a plane…we haven’t had anybody offer us the opportunity up to this point, but I would love to do it if it ever presented itself.

MM: What type of bands do you generally tour with? Stylistically how do they compare with Joy Electric?

Martin: In the past we’ve toured with The Echoing Green, Velour 100, Pedro the Lion, Prodigal Sons, Morellas Forest, Viva Voce, Bleach, Miss Angie, etc. So stylistically it’s all over the board, which is how it should be. We’ve avoided doing “electronic” style tours because that gives you a stigma that I’ve tried to stay away from throughout the years. Since the band is based around songwriting, I’ve tried to tour with bands who prioritize the same things, and that’s mainly indie groups.

MM: How do you perform your music live? What instruments do you use and is any of it pre-recorded?

Martin: We use pre-recorded tracks because 90 percent of my sounds are physically unplayable. I play all of the main lead lines and solos, and do all the vocals. It changes every time because some shows are just myself performing, while other times I have a drummer, synthesizer player, etc.

MM: How do your live performances compare to your studio recordings? Are you satisfied with how the songs are performed life as compared to the CDs?

Martin: Live shows definitely have an energy level that is not present on the records, even given the nature of the music I make. From the sounds played live, to the vocals and the overall presence on stage, live JE is still the more preferable format for the music, in my opinion. I don’t know if I’ve ever been completely satisfied with the live shows in general, but I think I’ve improved as a performer over the years, even if it’s been a small improvement.

MM: You’ve recorded a lot of albums, at least one per year. How many albums are in your discography and are there more songs that you do not release?

Martin: There are 12 records in the discography and plenty of songs that have never been released; too many to count.

MM: What’s the status on the box set, what will be on it and when will it be out?

Martin: The box set is due out on June 18th. It’s a 2-disc set featuring a “greatest hits” on one disc, and 12 new songs and remixes on the other.

MM: What can you tell me about the Legacy story? How many more albums after “The White Song Book” will be part of the series and when will the next one be released?

Martin: The Legacy series has been cut short to the one volume, but I will be continuing with the series under a different name for the next album and beyond. There are some changes coming with the band, and I wanted to start fresh with new ideas and concepts. The next album is close to being finished and should be out in February 2003.

MM: You seem to generally be open about your faith and you say that you want to be part of the Christian market. Have you ever thought about becoming part of the general market and if so what would you hope to accomplish?

Martin: Well, we have fans on both sides of the market. I just think it’s disingenuous when a band claims to not be a part of this Christian scene but continues to play churches and festivals that help the scene grow larger. I don’t really get involved in the politics of this “scene” or that “scene”. A fan is a fan, and I’m thankful for everyone who supports.

MM: Do you think your desire for musical perfection is misinterpreted?

Martin: Possibly, but I haven’t had a lot people press me on the idea of it. It’s obviously a subjective idea because everyone would have his/her own opinion on the definition of it. It’s just the philosophy that drives what I do, because I treat music like a craft, rather than something that’s completely emotionally driven. I don’t equate what I do to art, but more of science, or more simply put…baking. My music is simply a recipe, but it also gets refined with time.

MM: How many more albums and how many more years will you plan to do with Joy Electric before the end?

Martin: I never plan on stopping unless something forces me to. It’s hard to predict the future, but I don’t foresee myself ever stopping writing songs because it’s as natural as walking for me.

MM: Any last words, thoughts, comments or suggestions?

Martin: Thanks so much for the questions…

For more information about Joy Electric click here.

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